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In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.
Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.
And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.
ARC received for review purposes in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
There are just certain YA books that absolutely blow me away with how readable they are. Jenn Bennett’s The Anatomical Shape of a Heart was one of those books for me. I didn’t think it was possible for the author to write another book even better than that one, but Jenn Bennett completely wowed me with Alex, Approximately. It’s the sort of book that is so hard to put down that you decide to forego all your chores, and in the end, you don’t even care, because reading the book was an indescribable experience. I have lots to say about Alex, Approximately, but I’m not going to reveal everything, because there elements of the book you have to experience all on your own. So here are 5 reasons why this book worked for me.
It’s not often that I discover a heroine is very much like me, but I was glad to see lots of my teenage self in Bailey. Now, I’m not a film-buff like Bailey was, but there were aspects of her characterization that I think a lot of teen girls will recognize. She’s a breath of fresh air with how perfectly flawed she was. She makes mistakes, she learns from her mistakes and she apologizes for her mistakes. Bailey was also quite an emotional girl, which I 100% related to. She has a lot going on with her family, but despite it all, she was a strong girl who stayed true to herself throughout Alex, Approximately. If you enjoy books with strong character development and growth, you will very likely connect on a deep level to Bailey and her story.
Porter’s swooniness (I know not a real word)
Good gosh does Jenn Bennett know how to write YA boys who are delectable! I was expecting Porter to be a great guy, but I was still surprised by how much I wound up loving him. He was charming, flirty and genuine in his kindness. The way he pursues Bailey totally had my heart fluttering all over the place. His devotion to his family, his cocky attitude and his love for surfing made him all the more attractive to me. Porter was so much more than just a surfer and I loved that he possessed so much depth. You’ll be left wondering where on earth you can find a boy as swoony as Porter once you’re done reading the book!
The vibrant beach setting & the museum that comes to life
I love anything that has a coastal beach setting because it reminds me home. Bailey has just moved in to her dad’s place in California, and a lot of her growth is focused around this setting. I loved the descriptions of the locales, locals, food, and the activities that she pursued while she was there. The museum that she finds work in was also beautifully written. It was quirky, charming, and had a very entertaining staff that had me smiling and laughing. I wish that I had somewhere as cool as The Cavern Palace to work at as a teen.
Relationships that are flawed, messy and meaningful
As with the characters and the setting, the relationships in Alex, Approximately were also a highlight for me. I particularly loved Bailey’s bond with her father. It’s a little complicated, but also full of love and respect for each other. There were so many great scenes of the two of them talking and expressing their feelings to each other. I loved that they were respectful even when they might not have agreed with each other. Bailey also meets an awesome friend in Grace. I really loved Grace, and I thought she made for an awesome side-kick, who was a rock for Bailey a lot of times. More awesome girl friendships, please!
A romance that is deliciously romantic & sex positive
To say that I loved the development of the romance between Bailey & Porter would be a severe understatement. I thought it was absolutely perfect, and I loved how it had a bit of a hate-to-love feel to it in the beginning. Bailey and Porter didn’t see eye to eye at first, but he slowly broke down her defenses and soon enough, even she couldn’t resist his charms. There were some seriously swoony moments in the book, but the scenes I loved the best were the ones of the two of them talking and emotionally connecting with each other. The chemistry felt real and tangible, and it was just the sort of romance that left me with a sappy grin on my face. Part of the romance also developed through emails and texts (which I LOVED), and made it extra special. As with The Anatomical Shape of a Heart, Alex, Approximately was also sex-positive. There aren’t explicit sex scenes or anything, but there are discussions of sex between the two protagonists before they jump into bed together. I was also ridiculously pleased at the mention of Bailey masturbating. I think there’s notion that bringing yourself to pleasure is sinful, especially for young women, so it was refreshing to have a YA book show it positively.
As you can probably tell from all my praise, I’m wildly obsessed with this book and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to pick Alex, Approximately up and find a story that’s full of heart, swoons and smiles. I’m ready for Jenn Bennett’s next!